The Island - Ana Maria Matute

Penguin Modern Classics


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The Island by Ana María Matute, translated by Laura Lonsdale / ISBN 9780241374283 / 179-page paperback from Penguin


'brilliant, devastating . . . every character is remarkable and captivating' The Times Literary Supplement

'a feverish, dramatic brew . . . the style is intoxicating . . . it offers a unique view of a part of Spain usually overlooked by literature' The Irish Times

Expelled from her convent school for kicking the prioress, and abandoned by her father when her mother dies, rebellious teenager Matia is sent to live with her domineering grandmother on the island of Mallorca. In the hot, oppressive stillness of an adolescent summer, she learns to scheme with her cousin Borja, and finds herself increasingly drawn to the strange outsider Manuel. But civil war has come to Spain, and it will teach Matia about the adult world in ways she could not foresee.

This powerful, lyrical coming-of-age novel depicts Mallorca as an enchanted island, a lost Eden and a Never Land combined, where ancient hatreds and present-day passions collide.

Born in Barcelona in 1925, Ana María Matute (d. 2014) began her career as a novelist in the late 1940s, quickly becoming established as one of the most significant literary voices of the Spanish post-war period. In spite of singularly harsh treatment by the Francoist censor - which described her as irreverent and immoral, banned her from engaging in journalistic activities, and forced her to alter or delay the publication of her writing for both adults and children - Matute's lyrical prose style and sensitive treatment of both conflict and childhood earned her both the Premio Nadal (for Primera memoria) and Spain's National Prize for Literature in 1959, a rare seat in the Real Academia Española in 1996, and the Spanish-speaking world's most coveted literary prize, the Premio Cervantes, in 2010. She is, to date, one of only four female authors to have received it.

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